Some quick advice for candidates running for local office

I have noticed that several people are now announcing for city races. As I watch this process I see several missteps. As a person who has directly worked with candidates on 5 winning campaigns I want to share some brief advice;

• Never run your own campaign or be your own treasurer. Have a campaign manager who has a winning record and experience.

• Never mention the party you are in unless asked directly (especially in a non-partisan race). I actually recommend people register independent before running in non-partisan races.

• Use your friends for volunteering and raising money do NOT use them for campaign advice (they will only tell you what you want to hear and will never give you critical advice).

• Spend money on a competent walking and mailing list.

• Knock on the doors of voters that wouldn’t normally vote for a candidate like you and keep notes of all your engagements (for revisits).

• Have a clear, simple and concise message and logo and find a good writer who will proofread and edit your materials and speeches.

• Make sure your website and other media works before you announce.

• Invite strangers and the press to engage you whenever possible and don’t keep secrets.

• Vet all of your skeletons before announcing.

• Don’t respond to negative or false information.

• Admit and apologize for any accusations that are true immediately and don’t dwell or play the victim.

• Never use your opponent(s) name when publicly discussing their failures. Pretend you are the only one in the race. Only offer new solutions to their bad policies.

• Target likely voters. Don’t waste money on billboards, yard signs, TV and Radio ads or EDDM mailings (Every Door Direct).

• Smile, stay upbeat and positive.

Read this book!

I have not been asked to help any candidate so far in this election cycle, but will likely be involved in a couple of the campaigns before the election but those candidates haven’t announced yet. If you want my help, I only have one request, you have to allow me to be ‘all in’ when it comes to strategy, and you have to be willing to take criticism (probably the main reason people didn’t ask me in the last city election 🙂


#1 Matt Paulson on 10.06.21 at 6:37 pm

Great advice here.

#2 l3wis on 10.06.21 at 7:08 pm

Some people tell me not to post this stuff because I am giving away secrets which I find funny, since the losers never take my advice and wonder why they lost.

#3 scott on 10.06.21 at 8:53 pm

don’t make a zombie video, and expect to be taken seriously.

#4 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 10.06.21 at 9:23 pm

The zombie video no longer matters. Now, that there is a third candidate, and a conventional one at that, ThuneHaken is assured re-election. It was the unconventional candidate, with no other candidates but Mr. Z and the mayor, that could have made things interesting. It would have been like turning a zombie lover into a darkhorse Mayor Knobe.